The Pittsburgh Penguins hoped three forwards acquired at the NHL’s trade deadline would make an immediate impact.
The Anaheim Ducks, sellers on Monday, had no such expectations.
The teams, who will meet Friday night in Southern California, got surprising results in their first games since the trades.
The Penguins lost 2-1 on Thursday at the Los Angeles Kings, the last-place team in the Western Conference. Pittsburgh newcomers Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues were kept off the score sheet.
It was the fourth straight regulation defeat for the Penguins, matching the total they had in 22 previous games since Christmas.
“We know that points are important, and we want to be playing well this time of year,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “You don’t want to drop four in a row, but it’s the reality we face. I feel like we probably deserved a little better the last few games, but you don’t get points for that, so we’ve got to find ways to win games.”
Marleau, 40, who arrived in a deal with San Jose, had one shot on 19 shifts in his debut for the Penguins.
“It’s good to shut the brain off as soon as you get on the ice,” Marleau said. “I was racing before that. But yeah, felt pretty good on the ice, and the guys are all easy to play with, so it makes it easy.”
Sheary, who spent his first three seasons with the Penguins and helped them win Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, and Rodrigues were acquired in a deal with Buffalo. Sheary played on the top line with Crosby and Jason Zucker, who joined Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago from Minnesota. Rodrigues centered the fourth line.
Despite the loss, the trio earned praise from their new teammates.
“Those guys were great. I think you can see what makes them successful players in the league,” said forward Bryan Rust, who scored the Penguins’ lone goal. “Obviously a lot of us are familiar with Conor and even playing against (Marleau) in the playoffs, I think we know how good he’s been for so long.
Rodrigues came in, (and) you could see how hard he works and his wheels and just the team game.”
The Ducks, with five new players, defeated visiting Edmonton 4-3 in overtime Tuesday to snap a four-game losing streak. Sonny Milano tallied twice and became the 10th player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in their first game with a franchise.
Milano, acquired from Columbus, drew a tripping penalty on the Oilers’ Connor McDavid at 1:09 of OT and scored on the power play at 2:05.
“It was definitely a lot of fun,” Milano told NHL.com. “Good opportunity to be out there in overtime and capitalizing.”
Danton Heinen, who came over in a deal with Boston, as well as left wing Andrew Agozzino and defensemen Christian Djoos and Matt Irwin also made their Ducks’ debuts.
“All those guys coming in, I’m sure it was an exciting day for them, but you never know what you’re going to get when you plug five guys into a lineup,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “Obviously, Sonny coming in and scoring early certainly bodes well for his confidence, that’s for sure.”
–Field Level Media